Over the last few decades, inequality in the United States has increased steeply. The gap between rich and poor is becoming increasingly larger. Since the 1980s, capital has been transferred from the poor and middle class to the upper class. In 1985 the top 0.1% owned 10% of the wealth in the United States, in 2015 the top 0.1% owned 22% of the wealth. This is not only happening in the United States, but all over the globe. The rich are getting richer, the middle class is disappearing and the poor are getting poorer. Inequality, both within and between countries, will be one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, as Piketty pointed out in his book Capital in the 21st Century.
In order to deal with inequality, and to make the world more equal, reforms are needed. In the light of China’s unbridled capitalism and Europe’s conservative policies regarding the Eurozone, the world needs Bernie Sanders to progressively reform the economy of the United States, and set an example for the rest of the world.
The most important improvement that the presidency of Bernie Sanders would bring to the world, is a change in economic policies. Sanders would focus economic policies on reducing inequality, by increasing the minimum wage amongst other policy measures. If someone works, they should not be living in poverty. Bernie Sanders said that “there is something profoundly wrong with a government that seems, every day, to be deeply concerned with the interests of the wealthy and powerful, but somehow ignores working people and the middle class, and seems to pay not attention at all to poverty”. Another measure to reduce the gap in wealth is free education for all. A well educated work force is the fundament of a strong economy. Every citizen needs to have the same chances in life, whether from a poor or a wealthy background. This can only be accomplished with free education for all. Especially the high costs of university education limit the access to education for young people, who do not have rich parents to cover the fees. Another important pillar is creating more jobs in the United States, by cancelling certain trade agreements and by investing in infrastructure in the US.
Sanders also promises to break up the big banks. Banks should not be ‘too big to fail’. Breaking up banks ensures a more stable financial system, because banks will implement a system in their companies that are safer, and where less risk-taking is allowed. This is necessary, because not so much has changed in terms of regulating banks since the financial crisis of 2008. The global financial system must be changed and improved by regulation. Sanders could contribute to this on a global level as president of the United States. Together with this goes the aim of Sanders to dismantle the strong link between corporations and politics and restore the democratic process. In many countries and international organizations in the world, a too strong link exists between the wealthy and politics.
Bernie Sanders is criticized by Hilary Clinton for not being experienced in foreign policy. His warning about the US invasion in Iraq, in 2002, however, shows that he has a vision and insight with regards to US foreign policy. He warned that the invasion in Iraq could result in anti-Americanism, instability and more terrorism. Sander will bring a more thought-through American foreign policy to the fore. He puts diplomacy before military action. He also pleas for the US as part of an international coalition, always working together with nations in the region to solve problems.
Some might call this a ‘weak’ foreign policy, but it is a foreign policy that will focus on peace instead of war, diplomacy over military action, and reconciling instead of policing. The ideas of Sanders are progressive, aiming for a two state solution for Israel/Palestine, supporting the agreement with Iran, and reforming the National Security Agency. Because the US is so influential, a progressive stance in its foreign policy will have a major impact.
In terms of both economic policy and foreign policy, Bernie Sanders could make the world a more equal and more peaceful place. Greater equality in the US and on a global level and the US back as a diplomatic power in the international community, is exactly what the world needs right now.
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